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Portraits Under Pressure

Lesson 28 of 28

Portfolio Critique

Victoria Will

Portraits Under Pressure

Victoria Will

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Lesson Info

28. Portfolio Critique
Listening to photography critiques helps you develop a critical eye for your own work. Learn the common protocol editors follow in a review of photo collections from distinguished artisans in the CreativeLive studio audience, and gain critical insight to use in your own work.

Lesson Info

Portfolio Critique

We are going to move on to our student portfolio reviews and what we're gonna do here is set a timer really for 10 minutes and Victoria will talk a little bit about how that that is actually the scenario a lot of times when you are getting a portfolio review. So, we're gonna start with Daniel. Head on up. Let's him around of applause. Alright yeah. (audience applauding) Hi. (audience applauding) Thanks for doin' this. Yeah. Come on in. Thanks for being willing. That's fine. So, if you had come in to see me and I was, who's your dream client? My dream client? Yeah. Someone with lots of money. That's a good one. Yeah, yeah. That's a good client to have. Okay. And which book is yours? The, I believe that one. There are two that have no names. Yeah. The brown one. So you're not alone in this. The brown one. Okay. So if we were at a, either at a portfolio review or at your dream client, very wealthy CEO-- Right. Neither of them are gonna have a lot of time ...

but you actually have a 10 minute timer. So should I be starting this or is someone starting it for me? Kenna do you know? If the timer is being, should I be starting it? Do we have-- Is someone else watching the clock? We can do it. Okay. Okay ready. So they legitamately say okay your meeting has begun. And everyone goes in at a portfolio review and you find the person that you've been matched with and they, and you. So. Why don't you actually start over there and walk in with your book because that's what happens. Sure. The editor is sitting there. The creative director whoever, and the person walks up to the table. And it's all about you. How are you? How are you? Real good. My name's Daniel. Daniel. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Mind if I sit? Please, have a seat. Alright. So tell me what do you do? I am a senior portrait photographer. Alright. And where are you based? Out of Albany, Oregon. Albany, Oregon. Okay. So I'm gonna go through this and treat this exactly the way people treat me which is sometimes they engage me in conversation and sometimes they wanna focus on the work and that's okay. Awkward silence is okay sometimes. You don't wanna fill it as the reviewer just because. Because it's taking away the time where they're looking through your book. Some editors start at the back, so do consider that when you're laying out your book. But if they start at the back you wanna make sure you have an equally as strong an image. 'Cause people flip through magazines that way. Wow. So have you made a portfolio before? No. Well, the website. Website? Yeah. Okay. Well I like the book, itself. The presentation is the first thing that I'm noticing. And other than the name which I won't harp on anymore which it should be right here, Thank you. or a logo here. It could be something simple here but something. Okay. And then we go in to the work, and I like the layout. Thank you. So when the seniors come to you did they have ideas or are these your ideas? We come together on it. We do a planning session Okay. before every session Okay. and when they don't have any ideas, like this particular girl didn't have any ideas I'll suggest the night time shoot or I'll throw some ideas at the wall Got it. and see what sticks. Okay. Alright. So the first, I love this one, Oh thank you. by the way. That one is my personal favorite. It's a great image. And I do really like in here, this, this situation. My only thought is it, it doesn't, all of them have a person, like you have a point of view. That's clear to me. Okay. And, I think the layout is nice. It's effective. And this could be a Levi's ad. This, I see that you've toned these differently. And so to me they stick out. And, but the images are very strong. So, I would consider either making sure you have more of this in the book. Okay. Do you know what I mean? So that there's more of... Yeah. Or, or I wouldn't include them. Or tone them differently perhaps. Okay. So that it, because I get to... And my, I think for you making a portfolio, you're considering, is this something you would show to clients to get more senior work? Yeah. Okay. That was kinda the deal. And that I think that this works very well for that. But if I'm gonna hire you for magazine, I still want to know who you are when you're not working. Right. You know? Okay. So, I would now say, may I see your personal work? Right, right and of course I don't have any. Right. So yeah. That's okay because you're gonna go make some. I am. Absolutely. You know? And, maybe it, personal work comes from anywhere and your personal work can be landscapes. I mean it doesn't have to be necessarily, your bread and butter. The Nadav Kander who's and incredible photographer has done a lot of personal work and then immediately that personal work gets snatched up and our creative directors say that is beautiful. I love what you're doing. Let's go make this and put a Mercedes Benz in it. And it's incredible because he's, he's so connected and dialed in and his personal work, it just speaks. You guys gotta look him up if you don't know his work. He's so established. He's been around. I've learned so much just from watching his career. I've never met the man. But he's terrific. I really like this in the layout. I think it speaks to the fact that you do engage and you do explore things. I think this one is maybe too posed. It, yeah. You know? And I think, I agree. I like the space here how it's laid out and the colors. I bet there's a lot of photos that you have at home on hard drives and what not, that should be in this book. This is interesting but I do think it's slightly distracting. Okay. Just because it's a little goofy, Right. and this, this is very colorful and I mean, she's wearing pink Crocs. Yeah right. Yeah. And a bunny suit. And a bunny suit. (Daniel laughs) And holding balloons. So to me this image, could stand on its own. It didn't need this. I was concerned about putting her in the gutter which I was I shifted it but I see the point yeah. Well, I understand that. Yeah. That's actually an interesting point about layout and design, but this doesn't have a gutter. Books don't have gutters anymore. You do have to consider that. If it is an old school print book, and I don't if you're gonna, Blurb does stuff. Mancloud does print stuff. I have absolutely no experience with a lot of these, I just know that they do them. There's no gutter. So if there's a face in the gutter right here. That's true right there. Doesn't bother me. Yeah. It's not distracting in any way. So, you don't have to think about that in the same way that used to. Obviously, prior with the old style leather books with plastic sleeves, I hate plastic sleeves by the way. I really dislike them. They're a lot like iPads to me but, not everybody does. It's just I think it, you're have to find the glare and so you're always trying to move around and I just want to look at the image. So, but this is again it's all my opinion. So it's just my take on the world. So, I think that I applaud your effort for laying this out. I do think that you will get more senior work. And, one thing that I can say is that there is a feel to it for sure. You have a, this the same thing. I think, and I think after this workshop you'll go back and look at the pictures that you've taken already and maybe pick different photos in the edit. Okay. I think you might have the work already there judging by this situation. (pages flipping) Well obviously you like to play around. You move people around, you try different scenarios. I bet that there are moments in there that you passed. Probably. Right? And you went to the more, the more, quiet images. The safe ones. And the more, what's the word? Sellable? Unfortunately. Sellable. Yeah. Well I totally get it. I completely understand but my point is that when you're looking at, going back and making a book that is entirely your personal work, some of those might fit. Okay. That's what I'm saying. I understand that there is, but at the same time, I bet you make this book of all this great fun quirky moments. Some that quiet, some have big energy and I bet people will gravitate towards it. But I do understand that there's, right now for you there's a line between personal work and your paid work but eventually hopefully it goes like this right? Yeah. It becomes the same vision. That's the goal yeah. That's the goal. You have two minutes left. Alright do you have any questions? Yeah. Is there an image there that you feel comfortable enough live just picking apart? Picking apart? Please, please. Wow. Please do. [Victoria] Hmm, let me think. I mean I do think, I'm not gonna pick these apart because there's nice qualities to them but I don't like her hand. Okay. It's too posed. Picking apart. You are a brave soul. I really applaud that. Yeah. I really do. Yeah, not gonna learn anything if we don't do that so. Well to be honest you didn't pick any, there's nothing in here that is, where I would just say take it out. I mean I told you already Right. I think this is awkward. I don't think we need this image. I think you have it here. Okay. I don't, I love the flow of this. I don't love this image. Okay. Part of it is actually, do you think she's watching? No. No there's no chance of that. Go ahead. Go ahead. Well I don't, I think I'm distracted by her makeup. She looks like she's trying to be 25 years old. She's a theater kid so she's used to caking it on. Yeah. So but that's me. I'm not drawn to this image. I do like the layout and I love the colors over here but what's happening here isn't doing it for me. Okay. I find, I don't know if other people are, feel that way but it's, it lacks in the connection that you have with other, with your other subjects. I mean this is just so much, Yeah. more intimate, more connected. And maybe she was a tough subject perhaps. That, we'd been shooting for a couple of hours at that point. She was done. She was tried. So I'm sure if you go back and you look through with her that you'd have better ones of her but, I would, it would be interesting to look at your websites for me to look through and say why isn't this in your book and why isn't this in your book but, I did again when I mentioned this earlier, so this isn't doing it but I do love this. And it is a breathing room in your layout book. Times up. Okay. Cool. Thank you so much. Well, I appreciate the time. Yeah absolutely. Thank you for coming in. Nice to meet ya. And that is exactly how it happens by the way. They go times up. (woman laughs) And you're like I'm just trying to finish this story. Daniel can you just let everyone know where they can find you-- Oh yep. online. Yeah absolutely it's at Trout Man Photography. Fantastic. Thank you. Hi. Hi. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming in. Okay. I had short time to make this. I understand. So. (pages flipping) But don't lead with that. Okay. (Victoria laughs) I understand. Right, right, right. I mean we'll, yeah. And I understand that this is like this is an uncomfortable situation, and I'm sure you feel like you're on in the hot seat. But you're taking steps towards, (page flipping) being comfortable being uncomfortable. Right. Not gonna, yeah? (pages flipping) Through all this talking I flipped page and I missed it. (pages flipping) Okay. (pages flipping) Alright. So where are you working currently? Where are you based? East Side. East Side. Right. Okay, and you do families obviously? I do family and some senior. Okay. And I did my first wedding this month. Oh wow. So. What'd you think of that? I don't know. It was fun. It was really fun. It was fun? Busy. So, Got it. maybe eventually more. Okay. And how long have you been working? I've been working professionally a little over a year. But I've done photos for a long time for friends and family. Well great. Alright. You're makin' headway. (pages flipping) Okay. Let me just get here to the end. Sometimes people stop and they're like tell me about this but I'm gonna try to get through a lot more. Okay. (pages flipping) Got it. Okay so, first question. Why does it say photography and design? Because I do design as well. I do design cards. Okay. So I've done like Christmas cards, senior cards. So. Okay. That's why I put there in case I want to expand my business as doing both. As doing both. Right. Would you, okay. Would you want to, if it would get to a point where people were just bringing you the photograph and saying design a card? I've done that. Or, okay. So you, I still would separate the two. Okay. I think it's, if people are hiring you for weddings and other things, family portraits, that they're gonna, it's a bonus that you're gonna make the card for them and that can be very clear on your website but I don't think it should be up front. I think it's confusing. 'Kay. Because, I'm not sure where I'm going with you as far as, I want a photographer. Focus on photography. Okay. And then they just oh my God she lays out books and makes them amazing like wedding photographers. They design albums that are beautiful but, Right. they don't say wedding photographer and album designer. Right. Okay. What is your dream job? Or maybe you're in it. I'm not sure yet. Maybe you're get, maybe it's, you're not sure yet? I'm not sure yet. Okay. But you're enjoying the family? I do. Okay. Alright so my first thing is I do love the print as I mentioned before and I do like Right. this and I think that this is clever. It seems like a nice way to put prints together. But because they're prints I want to pick them up, and I want to touch them, and I want to look at them. And, I don't think that seeing this elevates the book. I think that, Okay. It's, I think that, you're a designer and I think I've seen you over two days and I know that you have style and I think that I want your style to be represented here. Right. So, and I know you said you didn't have a lot of time and they're things that you would make differently but I seriously applaud the effort that you put one together here for us to take a look. So you clearly can get moments. You know, you're doing the work. But I think, I'll show you my favorite photograph. (pages flipping) It's the best picture in the book. It's really nice. I mean if this was my daughter I would just have it like life sized. It's really nice. I think that this is where you start. And you take this photo and then you put it up and you put all the other photos that you've taken before around it and you see what fits with it because, I understand that what you were doing. I can shoot a big family. Right. And then you said I can shoot the children individually and oh I can shoot infants. Infants are also impossible to shoot. Very difficult. I get it. I have one. And I can shoot infants. And you're also making a display about this is a very nice image. And I think it's a little bit what Daniel was doing. This is gonna get you more family work. Right? I do think that's the bottom line. But we're going beyond that. We're going for the long term. We're trying to elevate this right? There are a lot of photographers out there that, will do senior work and family work and weddings and what not Right. and what's you contribution? Why are you different? It's the same question I ask myself and I think that you're, the more you shoot the more you're gonna find your personal style but this is the strongest image and your book that is your heart and soul of you. Your brand, your personality, your point of view has to, be your taste level which is, I can, I know just from meeting you over the last couple days is very high. So, while this is gonna get you new work, I think that you should take that one photograph, and build a portfolio around that. And I'm talking about your personal portfolio. This image is so strong. And then this image is very clean. Perfectly executed. But I'm not emotionally attached to it anyway. I also I, there were two verticals that I thought could maybe be put together on the same page, and if you did another layout I might have photographs here or just have them, just have it be white. But I think that, I also really like this picture but there's nothing else in the book like it. Right. So, you're a photographer. You know, oh I love these. And I saw what you did. You went family to babies, Right. to engagement and that makes sense if you're trying to sell me something, but, and in a sense I suppose you are. You're trying to sell me on you but I want you. I want who's Jae. It's like this is, did I pronounce your name right? I've been thinking Yeah, yeah. about that all day actually. 'Cause you spell it in such a unique and beautiful way. I think, I mean this is, what a lovely moment. Right? Yeah. So this next to, that's staying. This is staying in your book. You got two minutes. Two minutes. Okay that's staying. And, we go and we put it next to, my favorite. (pages flipping) I'll start moving some stuff around. Right? So from here to here. Look at that. That's great, right? When we're flipping the book and then, you could put, I really like, this is a beautiful image. Keep that one. I like this. I like, this is showing me how you shoot. Right. Right? I like how quiet this is and I think it would go in the book next to this one. So there's work in here, and I think you're definitely on your way. But this feels like you. Maybe it's 'cause you're wearing a floral, and there's flowers here but I think that that's something important to think about. If I sat down with somebody, and made them laugh and we had this hilarious conversation right? And then they open up my portfolio and it is all really dark, super serious moody work. I mean there's a disconnect there right? So, that's what I'm seeing is a disconnect between, and I understand. I think that you do have to make things that are going to get you knew work and, but you have to sort of, we're all in the same boat. We all have to make our personal work to move forward. Do you have any questions for me? Quick one. How to, I mean what's the step to figure out what you want to be or what, I mean 'cause I enjoy taking Yeah. most of the, do most of my job. That's fine. So. Shoot, keep, shoot every single job that comes your way. Every single one. Okay. And then eventually you're gonna look at all your pictures, you're gonna lay them all out on the floor just like when I made my website. You're gonna say this one and this one and this one and this one all feel the same. And you're gonna see it and you're gonna know why. Times up. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Keep shooting. Thank you. Alright before you walk away could you let everybody know Jae where people can find you online. It's Jae Lykken. Great. Thank you. Thank you. Is it short for anything? Jae? No my husband's Norwegian. Oh Jae, no no. Oh no. Just Jae yeah. Jae? Okay. Yeah Jae. Fantastic. Alright Jae. (audience applauding) Alright Lucia. Alright. My last one. Shake your hand? Yes of course. Hi Lucia Luzye. Nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time for-- Of course. Me. My pleasure. Can I give you a disclaimer? Really quickly. This is my first time printing something. I forgot to lift the shadows. So they'll be clipped and I put this together two hours before my eight in the morning shift at work. (laughing) Okay. I got it. And I again before I've even gotten into the book I applaud the effort of making it. Thank you. Did you learn anything about-- Yes. What did you learn? Before we get-- To work under pressure. (laughing) I'm so glad. (Lucia laughs) But when you looked at your, when you were putting this together was, did you have an epiphany of you know what I'm missing? You know what would really work here or-- You know-- Gosh I'm really good at-- I've been shooting on Sunday's for over the past year. Okay. And during this time I already have my favorite photos in the back of my mind out of all times. So when I had to put it together I got the email from CreativeLive. Like I know what photos to include. Okay. So it became apparent to me that the portraits that, I mean the type of photos that I enjoy shooting the most are portraits. Okay. So-- Well that's exciting. Now you, that's a step in the right direction. You know what you really enjoy doing. Yes one on one preferably. I haven't looked at all through this book yet and I, one thing that you said is you went through and you picked all of your favorites right? Yes. Sometimes there are some photos that fit that work that really elevate the work. But they might not seem like they're your favorites as they stand alone. Because if you put just stand alone stand alone stand alone pictures together, and then you put them all into a book, the book has a certain flow right? Yeah. There's no unifying theme. Well it doesn't have to be a theme. It's just a point of view and did you guys, could you see in my book when I showed you that story sort of a point of view? I mean I hope, I really hope that's the case. The narrative. Yeah absolutely. Yeah not just the narrative. There's, each story is unified by color and maybe some more detail some more portrait but they hopefully, remember we were talking about when you look at magazines and I can tell you who I think shot the cover. Hopefully, that's what I want. I want eventually to be pick up this book and say, open it and say oh that's Lucia's. Right? So that's where we're trying to go. Okay. Okay so you are working where? Irvine. Irvine okay. And you, is this a high school? These are This is a high school-- college seniors. College seniors. Okay. Yes. From last year. Last year okay. So my first question. Do you want to be hired to make more of cap and gown? Cap and gown pictures? Yes. Okay. I enjoy them. Okay great. See? These are good questions. Good to know. Oh wow look at this. So you've done weddings? Three and I have sort of given up on them (laughs). Why? Don't give up. Or you-- They're, so they're time consuming before, during and after. Absolutely. And the amount that I'm charging does not warrant, Right okay. the time investment. Right okay. Alright so the first thing I notice is that there's a, everybody seems to be at the same focal distance almost. You know? Yeah. Yes I-- It's your and I know-- 70 millimeters (laughs). Okay. Okay. I bet that there are photos that you took during your time with them that you pulled back super wide. Yes I did. Yeah more environmental. So that-- Mm Hm. So that's so far what I think I'm missing. You know? And with everybody's book that I've seen so far you clearly know how to drive a photo shoot. So now it's just about finding those moment driven images, and I think a lot of you even know how to connect, but it's just taking it to the next level. Which is why we're all here of course. This feels very connected to me. And she's puttin' her hands in her hair, maybe she did it a few times. I wonder if there's an image before or after that maybe she, you know? Yes. I do think this is a successful image though. But, I mean you have beautiful places, beautiful people to shoot, but I want to know what you'd be doing if you weren't making senior portraits. Would you, is there, a photographers work you love? Or, have you seen a photo recently that you went wow I really wish I, I wish I had shot that? Some of your work. Oh well thank you (laughs). (audience laughs) I like vibrant colors with contrast and specific mood to them. So, I try to recreate that. I'm still trying to find my voice. But yeah definitely. So am I. I mean I think it's a lifelong journey. I really do. So, this image I'm, what is interesting to me is that this is the image. This is the photograph right here. Right? This doesn't mean anything. This isn't adding anything. So, when you were with them, and this is nice too of course. But this look really makes this image. So it's about this. So, in the same way when you watched my contact sheet go through and you watched me shoot and I would see something, just something beautiful that something, naturally I'd put the camera down and I'd shoot well you did something to have here sort of warrant this look, and that's, and then he looks over to her. So this, there's something in there. I want to see the contact sheet 'cause I bet that the really strong images are a few frames after. The off moments. The off moments. Just the less obvious moments and I understand, and I know that I have said this with each review that, you gotta get the bills paid and you want to make work and you're making successful portraiture. I'm just trying to push you to the next level. Thank you. You're welcome. It's really, it's balance, it's a journey. If I came, when I was shooting at the newspaper, if I just came back with these Vanity Fair style crazy portraits they would be like have you lost your mind? I still had a job to do. So, on those shoots, as I mentioned I would get the job done and then I would shoot for me and eventually those two things merge. Converge. And that's really what you want. You want to be able, you want to get hired for you. You don't want to get hired because you can execute a really good, bridal portrait or whatever it is. In a way, I don't know if you've ever felt like this but I had times where I felt as if I was being hired almost because I was a puppet. In the sense that they would say this is a photograph that we want, and we think that you can do it. And that was true. I can make that happen. Two minutes. Sounds good. I can make that happen but if it doesn't have anything to do with me why am I doing it? And at this point in my career I, I'll say you know what? I don't, that doesn't fit my style. I really think you should call so and so because they are, they're really fantastic at this. In the beginning I took absolutely every job. And I think that's really important because that's how you find your style and you find your voice. You just shoot shoot shoot shoot. You learn something on every shoot. You also never know who's there. I read a really great story a couple years ago in a magazine about, I think it was PDN about a photographer who went to a wedding. She was a wedding photographer and the bride was kinda crazy and it was this big to do and she just shot the wedding and she thought nothing of it and then a couple weeks later, or a couple months later, it's been a long time since I read the story so don't hold me to the details but the essence is the creative director of John Deer called her and said I loved how you handled yourself at the wedding. I thought that the photos were beautiful. Would you shoot our ad campaign? Well that's a career making moment. And there are a lot of photographers who have gone on to make beautiful commercial work and have very successful careers in both worlds. Weddings and you know. You also can cross over. But I think it's important to just keep at it. Also sometimes at those shoots you'll be in, maybe it's a terrible lighting situation and then you make a great image out of it. Well now you have that in your back pocket. You know the next time when it's really important, maybe it's your first celebrity shoot and you walk in and it's bad lighting. Well you're like oh I remember that job that I did in that cave and this is how I lit it and now I'm gonna use those skills. So that's why I think you should shoot, just keep shooting. I do like the juxtaposition here. Times up. Okay. I will just finish up with the last thing. The juxtaposition of the close up and the intimate and the full length, what I think that this. Again I was talking about the success of-- The upper portion. It's just, I just know in your contact sheet it's a few more frames. I wish, I hope all of you will go back and look through the work you've already done just with fresh eyes and just see what's in there because I think sometimes you're editing for your clients and that's absolutely okay but now go back and look for you. Thank you. You're welcome. Lucia before you step off if you could tell everyone where they can find you online. Okay I hope I can pronounce this (laughs). L-U-Z-Y-E. Luzye Photography. And I have a domain but I have not used it. I haven't even put in progress. (laughing) Well you look, baby steps. You're getting there and I think after the end of this workshop hopefully you'll build up the courage to go do it. Yes. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for having that. (audience applauding) Thank you for being willing you guys. I know it's not an easy thing to do to sit up here and have us go through your work. It takes a lot of courage. Absolutely. Thank you. Well, Victoria we've come to the end here of our Portraits Under Pressure. Wow, can't believe it. We've done so many things, Wow. but wondering if we could sort of wrap up with some final words and maybe finding about, thinking about yourself back what you would tell yourself back when you first starting if you know what you know now. Okay. What I would tell myself. It took me a long time to get to this point but I would tell myself hopefully earlier on that actually you can do it. You are good enough, and you have to invest in yourself. The reality is of course not everyone is going to make it. Not everyone's going to, have that Teflon skin. And that's okay. I think what's important is to put yourself into it 100% for as long as you can. A lot of people, some people ask me how do you think you got where you got? Where I am in this career and I, part of me thinks the answer is that I'm just tougher. I'm just willing to work that much harder because a lot of very very talented people I know and lot of very very talented photographers have stopped doing it along the way, for a lot of reasons. It's unstable, you never know when the next paychecks coming and for whatever reason. There are a lot of reasons or they just stopped having the passion for it. And that's absolutely okay. I think what's important is to try and to know that you gave it your all. And I think that if you, I'm just never gonna stop taking pictures. That's a very definitive answer. I know I'm never gonna stop taking pictures. So, when I go home at night I'm still a photographer, and that's the mindset that you have to have. You really have to put everything into it and there are a lot of people I've met along the way that want to make better portraits and they want to get there but they have a full-time job, and that's fine. But at some point if you really want to be a photographer you have to believe in yourself and you have to make that leap. And you will know when you're ready to do that. You will. This is, I know it's sort of cheesy to end with a quote, but I saw this quote actually on a bracelet. It was engraved on a bracelet in a souvenir shop in Vermont like maybe 15 years ago and it still sticks with me. And I think it's, and I think about it all the time. Because at so many points during my career I have just looked at things with new eyes. I just had a fresh perspective, and that's really made me see things much more clearly and along the way and I hope that through this course it made you look at your work and the way you approach your subjects and the way you approach portraiture a little differently. Absolutely Victoria. I see a lot of smiles and heads nodding here in the studio audience and of course as well here in the chat rooms. Thank you so so much for an incredible class of running all over the place. We talk about putting an instructor, and educator, professional under pressure. That is what we have done and my goodness, what an incredible educational piece of content that we have created out of that. So, for now Victoria Will. Thank you so much again and that's a wrap. We will see next time right here on CreativeLive. Thank you everyone. (audience applauding)

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Leverage new techniques for choosing the light and locations for a successful portrait
  • Know how to build a rapport and utilize clear communication with your subjects
  • Set up a developed concept as well as how to light on the fly
  • Use successful strategies for marketing yourself as a photographer and how to get your work in front of editors


Portraits require more than just great lighting and equipment. Sometimes a shoot doesn’t go as planned. The location is drab, the client isn’t in the best mood, or you forget to charge your camera batteries. Great portrait photography artists are able to think on their feet, connect with their subjects -- and capture great images under pressure. The best portraits often come from portrait sessions that didn't go exactly as planned, when challenges turn into assets.

Celebrity portrait photographer Victoria Will shows you how to use your environment to capture a unique, sharp image that reflects the person in the portrait. She’ll also highlight how to quickly evaluate a less than perfect situation and make it work for you and your subject. Take your portraits from amateur to near Mona Lisa gallery worthy by learning how to shoot portraits under pressure.

You’ll watch Victoria photograph real people in limited settings, discovering multiple opportunities in a limited space. Learn her three portrait musts for preparation, point-of-view, and connection. Gain insight into how to make every frame count and how to get the shots the editor requested, as well as those that speak to your vision. Learn how to make your subject feel comfortable in only a few moments while capturing exquisite photo collections in Portraits Under Pressure.


The photographer looking to improve their portraiture through thoughtful lighting, creative techniques and leveraging the environment around you to get a consistent appearance.


Victoria Will’s background as an American photojournalist and celebrity photographer has helped her to develop techniques on editorial assignments to quickly connect with a subject. Her career began as a photojournalist for the New York Post and grew into a sharp portrait photography focus that opened opportunities to photograph celebrities. She continues to work in New York as an artist specializing in portraits and commercial work.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Reference Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Helena Sung

This was a great class and I learned a ton! It was amazing to watch Victoria Will in action -- shooting portraits under pressure. I learned a lot watching her walk into an unknown situation -- not knowing the location, what the natural lighting situation would be, and only knowing she had 15 minutes for the shoot. I loved watching her problem solve on the spot with lightning and tight, dark spaces. She also taught a lot about how she interacts with her subjects -- always putting them at ease (like you're the host at a dinner party -- gem!) It's much easier for a photographer to take pictures in their studio, but this course was not about that. This was watching a photographer handle real world situations under time pressure and think on her feet. Loved it! I also loved the parts where she culled her photos afterwards and picked out the ones that caught her eye. In most instances, I found myself agreeing with her!! When she gets subjects to stand up and sit back down, it is the in-between moments she is looking for, or the moment right afterwards -- genius!! Oh, lastly, I loved how she went through stunning images she shot of celebrities like Brad Pitt and Janelle Monae and gave us the backstory of how she creatively problem-solved to get the shot! Hello, showing up two hours before a shoot and knocking on random hotel room doors for furniture?!! Of course she could do that because she has a lovely, warm personality! Oh, and by the way, the bits she shares about her early career path is very inspiring!

Robert Negrin

Great course! And the best part was the honesty. I was an executive in a fortune 500 company and what the critics watching this course missed is that there are a lot of talented photographers, actors, singers, accountants and even landscapers, but there are very few that are successful and accomplished. Yes, part of it may involve a certain degree of luck, but most of it is the drive and desire to suceed. It is obvious you have both. I used to beleive that a true image could only be captured by styling the shot, metering light and controlling the subject. (Yes, I shot film...complete with developing and printing all my images) Then, one day I realized that, if deliberate-shooting was the right way, why then most of the great images I have were the result of quick, rather than deliberate reactions. I get it Victoria. Love your style and how you get there. Three things I learned today are that the conditions... even the background, do not have to be perfect if the image is strong enough to carry the message. Second, setting up to capture the perfect image, misses all the imperfect, epic moments. Third, I disagreed with almost every image you picked until they were isolated from the rest. Then they made perfect sense. Well done. :) Robert Gabriel

Meredith Zinner Photography

I really love Victoria and her work. She's something suuuuper special and showed me a fab new way to look at portraits. I love her openness, honesty, the whole 'you're at my dinner party' intimacy, care and respect for her clients and am SO impressed at how quickly and reliably she's able to transform any location to suit her needs. She's super impressive, professional and inspiring thank you!